Tiny shoe find: Payless Girls’ Fynn Ballet Flat

How long have I been looking for a new pair of black flats? Probably no fewer than a million and a half years. My search grew more active in the past few weeks because I’m going to Ireland in less than a month and I really needed to find flats that would be comfortable enough to wear sightseeing but decent enough to wear out for a night on the town. Also important? I wanted the cheapest pair I could find. Yes, black flats are a staple and worth investing in, but I wanted a pair that I wouldn’t mind ruining in the mud that comes with Ireland’s near-daily rain, or, to be honest, leaving behind to make more room in my suitcase for souvenirs!

I went Ireland-shoe hunting last week and struck out at Target, Dillard’s, Macy’s and a few other stores before finding the perfect pair in the most unexpected place: The kids’ aisle of Payless.

These flats are pretty much everything I wanted. They’re the rare pair of children’s flats that are not boxy and awkward but rather fit like normal women’s shoes. They’re simple, but I love the pleats, and they’re cut high enough to avoid unsightly “toe cleavage.” They have a great, sturdy non-skid rubber sole, which should keep me grounded on slick streets and not wear out like the soles of some flats (I’m looking at you, Missoni for Target). And, at $14.99, they’re completely mud-friendly! Awesome.

It’s hard for me to give you an idea of how these run, size-wize, because I wear anywhere between a 5 and a 6 in adult sizes, but I can tell you, definitively, that I am a size 3 in children’s shoes. Here’s the Fynn flat next to one of my (new!) Converse All-Stars, also a children’s size 3. Hope that’s some help for figuring out how they would fit you!

You can buy these in black here, and the site has them in white and brown, too. They also have the same shoes in adult sizes, 5 and up, here, but they’re pricier at $24.99. Still, though, a steal for a cute, comfortable pair of flats!

Mixing textures: Flowers and snakes

Ann Taylor and Loft are stores on my “Get used to so you can dress like a grown-up” list, but I’ll readily admit that they intimidate me. The first time I tried to visit Ann Taylor, I didn’t even make it in the door — I saw nothing but neutrals and suits and promptly fled.

But I couldn’t avoid it forever: I received several Ann Taylor pieces for Christmas, and I had to make the trip to return or exchange the ones that didn’t fit. I was left with an item I could handle — a beautiful gold bangle — and two that I liked but had absolutely no idea how to wear: a cream floral-textured pencil-ish skirt and a skinny faux-snakeskin belt.

I asked the saleswoman for some help picking out tops that would work with the skirt, and we ended up with two turtlenecks, one burgandy, one coral. I really like the turtlenecks; they’re soft, which is always great, and they have elbow-length sleeves, ideal for push-every-sleeve-past-my-elbows me. Here’s one of the outfits we finally came up with:

I don’t think it’s perfect — I wish I could find some burgandy tights to swap for black, and it could use a necklace — but it’s a step in the right direction. If you have any other ideas on how I could wear either of those items — the skirt or the belt — they would be greatly appreciated! Cheers.

Sweater: Ann Taylor Petite Elbow Sleeve Turtleneck, sz XS (Not available online, final sale in stores — similar here, with long sleeves). Skirt: Ann Taylor Petite Snow Flower Lace Skirt, sz 2P. Belt: Ann Taylor Perfect Skinny Watersnake Belt, sz XS. Tights: Target. Shoes: Payless Dexter Karma Pump, sz 5.

Shopping win, and a shoe acquisition

We have several Marshalls stores in my area, but I don’t visit them very often — I’ve always had trouble understanding their organizational system, and stores I don’t understand make me nervous. But I’ve been on the hunt for new shoes, and Jean from Extra Petite posted a few weeks back that TJ Maxx/Marshalls is good for “chic shoes in extended sizes,” so I thought I’d give it a try. Turns out I’m taking Jean’s advice on everything from here on out, because I struck gold at Marshalls. Not shoes, but still gold.

Because I am your standard college student, I live in jeans. Unfortunately, I never seem to find jeans that fit me well. In the past few years, I have found two styles that I’m happy with: Old Navy’s The Flirt Skinny, which no longer exists, and Levi’s 524 Boot Cut, which runs about $46 a pair at Carson’s, a store that doesn’t let you apply coupons toward Levi’s. I thought I had found a great deal Monday, when I found a pair at Kohl’s, where I could use a coupon and get them for $34.

Marshalls today? $16.99. And in a better wash, too. I almost fell over. I bought two pairs, thinking I can get one altered for heels and one for flats.

$16.99 darker-wash pair from Marshalls, left; $46 ($34 with coupon) pair from Kohl's, right.

So yeah, that made my day.

Then, success part 2: I found a pair of shoes at the Famous Footwear next door. My shoe priority was a pair of black shoes that looked nice but were easy to run around in (a.k.a. journalist shoes). I had planned to just get new flats, but I found Oxfords in my size on the clearance rack, and I couldn’t pass them up.

I’ve wanted Oxfords for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally found a pair! Admittedly, I’m not sure how to wear them with anything other than pants, so I’d love some advice there. I want to try them with dress shorts — any tips? Also, I instinctively bought normal black laces to dress them up, but the ribbons are quickly growing me. Should I keep them?

Anyway, I didn’t get around to the hours-long mall adventure I had planned for the day, but I had a pretty successful 2-hour trip. Cheers.

Oxfords: Hot Kiss Oxy in black, sz 5.

Going green for Earth Day (sort of)

Earth Day isn’t technically until the 22nd, I think, but my town apparently decided today was a good day to celebrate. We had a beautifully sunny day, and a great festival. A few blocks were closed off for vendors to set up with food, pamphlets, crafts and the like.

I kept an eye on the jewelry tables in search of something turquoise, because I’ve been looking for a turquoise necklace for a while (Okay, since Nina Garcia recommended it. I’m slowly but surely chipping away at that Hundred.). It’s been difficult finding something I like — most of the turquoise at Forever 21 is part of “hippie”-looking jewelry with feathers and such, and more simple-looking pieces at other stores have been expensive. But! I found the perfect necklace today.

The detail in this picture is not fantastic, but you can kind of tell that it’s pretty and kind of delicate, but also intricate — lots of curls and twists and nice accents. The turquoise is pretty and gives a pop of color, but it isn’t “in your face,” either. Perfect for me. And only $10, supporting a local craftswoman! Love it.

Outfit for the day? I needed something that was cute and put-together in case I ended up doing work stuff, but I also had to look casual enough to fit in at an Earth Day celebration (very, very laid back atmosphere). I kept it simple — denim skirt and sandals, and a green shirt to fit the theme.

Sorry for the awful pic — people walked in on my retake, so I had to stick with this.

I love that the majority of this outfit is old. I’m fairly sure I wore this top/cami combo for picture day Sophomore year of high school (okay, that’s four years, which isn’t a long time in real-world time, but it’s an awkward time frame). I’ve had the skirt since eighth grade, but I just started wearing it last year — I think during high school the only acceptable kind of denim skirt is a mini skirt, not something knee-length and flouncy. Now I wear it all the time.

The shoes are the only recent purchase. A “tiny find,” I got them from the kids’ aisle at Target last spring. Twice last summer, I saw small children wearing them at my job. Always a fun time. The stones are not quite turquoise — more green than blue — but when my feet and neck are so far apart, and there are plenty of clothes between, it works.

Shirt — Carson’s. Cami — Aeropostale. Skirt — Gap. Sandals — Target. Necklace — Handmade locally.

Finally! A Little White Dress!

You know how there are those things that you think for months, “I need one of those?” But you just can’t find one that works for you? That was me and the Little White Dress. I’ve wanted one for a while, and it was on my to-find list on my big shopping adventure a few weeks ago, but it just didn’t happen. They were all frilly or sheer or just fit terribly. So sad.

But! Today I had a few hours to kill, so I decided to pop into my town’s two resale shops. The first one was not so great, though I might try to sell some clothes there. At the second one, though, I struck gold. An adorable American Eagle Little White Dress — in my size! — for $10. Plus, it has POCKETS. As you know, any dress or skirt with pockets gets huge points from me. I couldn’t pass it up.

It didn’t come with a belt, but I thought it needed one — it looked mildly little-girl on its own, so I added my brown braided ‘leather’ belt in hopes of making it look more mature. I love the way they work together — the colors work, and the belt adds some more shape to the dress, too.

Close-up on the fabric. Kind of floral-doily-thing, but not obnoxiously so.

If I keep it up with the brown belt, I’ll wear the dress with my brown leather sandals (currently being repaired, so no photo 😦 ). How do you style your Little White Dresses? Nina Garcia, who is apparently my new idol even though I’m still not really sure who she is, suggests metallic shoes, turquoise jewelry and a few other things in The One Hundred (which I should buy at this point, I Google tips from it so often). Turquoise was already on my to-buy list, and I think it would work well with the white dress and the leather accessories. Love it.

New Game: Secret Heiress

I spent the day in Chicago with family, but after some scheduling shenanigans I found myself on Michigan Avenue with some time to kill. I was headed for the legendary 3-story Michigan Avenue Forever 21 — an amazing place, to be sure — when I spotted a more intriguing destination.

Oh, Burberry. How much would I love to own something — even a basic scarf! — in that iconic plaid. I love all things British, and Burberry is so quintessentially British. I’ve seen the store before, but I’ve never gone in, because I assume everything in there is wayyy out of my price range.

But today I thought to myself, you know what? You’ve been reading about designer brands for months now, and you have yet to see any of this stuff in real life. Go look! See them in their natural habitat. It’ll be like a safari.

So I did it. I went through the super-heavy door and walked in.

I felt out-of-place, to be sure. The greeter didn’t “greet” me very well, and I worried, “Can she somehow tell that I can’t afford any of this? Do they have some kind of money-detecting instinct?” But when a saleswoman asked me if she could help me find something, I went for it — I said, “I don’t really get the layout of this store, can you show me where everything is?” And she did it! She basically gave me a tour. Basic collection. Upscale. Runway. The Trench Coat room, with those famous trenches, none under $2,000. (I vowed today, someday I will own a Burberry trench. It will happen.) I wandered for a few minutes, looking around and falling over upon seeing some of the price tags, before walking out (and saying good-bye to my fabulous saleswoman!).

I couldn’t stop grinning, because I realized: No, silly, they can’t detect how much money you have. Walk in there like you know what you’re doing and they’ll assume that you do. They have to be nice to you in case you’re a secret heiress. For all they knew, I could have been.

After Burberry, I went into Tiffany’s. You might have noted by now that I have a love for jewelry with a lock-and-key theme, and that’s basically what Tiffany’s most recent collection is. I’ve been extremely tempted to buy their tiny heart-shaped lock necklace, because it’s so very much me and only costs $100. The saleswoman caught me looking at in gold, and when she asked if I had any questions, my instinct was to say, ‘Just looking!’ and scurry off. But I thought, ‘What the hell?’ I asked her if they had it in silver, and she directed me upstairs to the rest of the collection, where another woman offered to let me try some on. I didn’t — I thought that might have been taking it too far — but I loved being asked. On my way out, a man in a suit told me to have a nice day, and I said he had a beautiful store. Seriously.

I know it’s a silly thing to do, going into fancypants stores and acting like you can actually afford things, but I lived it up. I got measured for expensive jeans at the Levi’s store. I inquired about a pair of shoes at United Colors of Benetton. I finally saw, in real life, the Christian Louboutin red soles Nina Garcia loves to talk about. I wasn’t wasting anyone’s time, because those stores were pretty much dead anyway, and I definitely wasn’t wasting any of my money — you can’t make stupid purchases when nothing is cheaper than $200. I had a ton of fun, and if you get the chance, I encourage you to do the same. It’s nice to have people treat you like you’re special.

But… in the end I did run for the Forever 21. How could you not? Like I said, 3 stories. Legendary. Worth a trip if you’re ever in the city.

I even found the Sweetheart Chambray Dress (S)  I had fallen in love with on the website.

It’s not a million-dollar Prada masterpiece, to be sure. But for now it’ll do me just fine.

SHOPPING OVERLOAD.

Yesterday was an adventure. I had cleared my schedule and designated it the official shopping day of “Operation ‘Dress Like a Grown-Up.'” I ended up spending a total of 7.5 hours shopping, about 6 of them at my mall. This is a complete record for me — I kind of hate shopping, because I have trouble finding things that fit — but it went fairly well. I got some things I’ve needed for a while (cropped denim jacket! white blouse!) and some good work-appropriate tops, too. I went to a ton of different stores. Some worked (LOFT, Gap, H & M) and some didn’t (I didn’t even make it in the door at Ann Taylor — all I could see were neutrals, so I fled).

What I got:

  • Cropped Denim Jacket
  • One skirt
  • One pair of nice black pants
  • Four blouse-ish tops
  • One casual tank top
  • One cardigan
  • One sweater
  • One pair of shoes
  • One necklace
  • One pair of earrings

Ready to see them? Read on!

Jacket: Gap Cropped Denim Jacket, XS (full price online, but it was on sale in store). My prize find of the day. I have wanted a cropped denim jacket forever, to wear with all of my dresses. This one was on sale for $27. You really can’t beat that. Skirt: Forever 21 Breezy Floral Skirt in Cream/Pink, S (also available in black and navy). My mom bought this for me, actually, which proves that she has better style than I do. You can’t really tell from the photo, but the cut is extremely flattering. (Yes, fine, this is not a “Grown-up” outfit, but I really like it so I put it first. The adult stuff is coming, I promise.)

Top: LOFT Petite Soft Peasant Tee in Coral Glow, XSP (also available in turquoise, brown, green & white). It looks red here, but it’s more of a pinkish-coral color. Skirt: Banana Republic skirt I found at Goodwill the other day, 0.

Top: LOFT Petite Ruffle Neck Blouse, 0P. I’ve been looking for a white blouse, and I like this one. It’s a bit sheer, but with a cami underneath it works fine. Pants: LOFT Petite Marisa Pants, 00P (can’t find on the site, but similar here). They claim they’re supposed to be long, don’t hem them, but they’re about an inch too long on me. Super soft, though.

Cardigan: LOFT Petite Front Pocket Cardigan, XSP (Normally $45 — on sale now for $20! Also in navy online, store had black and brown as well)

Top: New York & Company Ruffle Trim Mercer Tee in Web Gray, XS (also available in black and raspberry). I wanted a ruffled top because my roommate always wears them to work and looks great. This is the best-fitting one I found all day.

Top: H & M Blouse (no online shopping, boo). The photo is terrible, sorry. I promise it’s more flattering in real life.

Sweater: Gap Cable Knit Sweater in Heather Gray, S. I felt silly buying a cable-knit sweater on March 31, practically spring, but it was beautiful and soft and on sale, so I had to have it.

Top: Pacsun Kirra Gauze Braided Strap Babydoll Cami in “Hot Pink,” XS (also available in pink, purple and a purple/blue floral). My one “silly purchase” of the day, but if this doesn’t scream “I’m moving to California,” I don’t know what does.

Accessory finds: Forever 21 Itty bitty Cameo necklace (I made that name up, can’t find it online, but you can get its fancypants big sister necklace here). I also bought Forever 21 Faceted Rhinestone Studs.

Shoe Find: Target Merona Makana Cutout Sliver Wedges in Pewter, 5 1/2 (Also available in red, yellow, blue, white and black. Full price online, but on sale in my store). I love everything about these shoes. The metallic color is cool, and you all know how much I adore wedges. Plus, the way my nail polish shows through cracks me up. I’m wearing a coral-ish shade now, left over from the wedding, but I can’t wait to see how these shoes look with my standard electric blue.

Also: I finally bought the bullet and bought a bikini, but if you think I’m modeling it for you, you don’t know me very well. I can’t figure out how to link to it directly, but if you check out Aerie’s Swim Guide, it’s the navy ruffly eyelet one.

So, that was my shopping extravaganza. I might shop a little bit today, because I’m going into the city, but after that I’m done until summer.

How do you think I did? Did I make good work-wear purchases? What else do I still need?

PS — I’m experimenting with different ways of giving outfit information. This post was loosely modeled after the style over at Extra Petite, with the links and such, but I also like the simpler style of Style Pint. Opinions?

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